Union accuses Amazon of violating labor law in second election after first election results tossed

The feds voided the first union election over Amazon's interference. Organizers say the company is doing it again

Published April 8, 2022 1:30PM (EDT)

Protesters outside a Jeff Bezos-owned Whole Foods store in New York City, an event in solidarity with unionizing Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama. (Getty Images)
Protesters outside a Jeff Bezos-owned Whole Foods store in New York City, an event in solidarity with unionizing Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama. (Getty Images)

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With hundreds of ballots still being challenged from an inconclusive union vote at an Amazon facility in Alabama, a national labor organization on Thursday called for possibly setting aside the results due to alleged illegal behavior by the e-commerce giant.

The Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU) filed 21 objections to Amazon's conduct with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), accusing the company of yet again interfering with the rights of its workers in Bessemer, Alabama.

The Bessemer vote coincided with an organizing victory in New York City and followed a determination by the NLRB in January that the Alabama workers should get a new election after Amazon "interfered with the employees' exercise of a free and reasoned choice" last year.

"Workers at Amazon have endured a needlessly long and aggressive fight to unionize their workplace, with Amazon doing everything it can to spread misinformation and deceive workers," said RWDSU president Stuart Appelbaum in a statement.

"The company violated the law in the first election, and did so again in this re-run election, without any doubt," he added. "We will continue to hold Amazon accountable and ensure workers' voices are heard. We are filing objections on Amazon's behavior during this election, which [includes] countless attempts to intimidate workers, even going so far as to terminate and suspend workers who supported the union."

The filing includes multiple allegations of retaliation, intimidation, surveillance, and new rules to prevent the spread of pro-union literature. RWDSU also accuses the company of unlawfully interfering with an employee engaged in protected activities in the break room, providing the union with a voter list with substantial errors, and illegally threatening facility closure.

"Amazon's behavior must not go unchallenged, and workers in Bessemer, Alabama must have their rights protected under the law," said Appelbaum. "We urge the NLRB to carefully review our objections and ensure no company, not even with the bottomless pockets of Amazon, is allowed to act above the law."

Of the 2,375 ballots cast in Bessemer, 993 opposed the union and 875 supported it. However, 59 ballots were voided and 416 are being challenged by Amazon and the RWDSU. The NLRB has not yet scheduled a hearing for the challenged ballots.

Amid organizing in Alabama and New York—part of a national wave of unionization efforts at companies across the country—Amazon has faced mounting criticism for its anti-union tactics.

The Verge reported Thursday evening that Amazon is planning to object to the results of the NYC election, according to a deadline extension request the company filed with the NLRB that, among other claims, alleges the union "threatened employees to coerce them into voting yes."

The "David-versus-Goliath" union victory at the Staten Island warehouse has been hailed by organizers on the ground, labor rights advocates nationwide, and top political figures, including President Joe Biden and Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

By Jessica Corbett

Jessica Corbett is a staff writer for Common Dreams. Follow her on Twitter: @corbett_jessica.

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